Walking to The Pump

by Nic Olson

This summer a friend was packing her things into boxes to move from her one bedroom apartment back into her parents home. She likes to read and I would consider her one of most well read people I know. She had a huge bookshelf of books and invited me to sift through a few of her extras that she didn’t think she wanted any longer. I took maybe ten books, mostly titles I’ve never heard of by some authors I have heard of. Orwell, Dostoyevsky, David Suzuki, Mowat, Tolstoy and others. I just grabbed stuff to make me look smart and studious, mostly. We sat around eating chicken fingers and blueberries talking about these books and our drunk friends in the room and next door.

I took ‘Keep the Aspidistra Flying’ by Orwell. I read it this past month and it became my favourite piece of fiction of all time.

Tonight I picked up a book that I don’t even remember taking by an author named J. Krishnamurti, who was born in India, so he’s obviously a genius. It is called ‘Think on These Things’. Non-Fiction. It is a man answering questions from students, presumably in a university setting. His ideas on education, knowledge, intelligence, freedom, love, life, ambitions, society, are the totally different from anything I’ve ever heard. I don’t even know what to say, really, so I’ll just give you a short quote from what I’ve read. It might be ramblings of a hippie, but he’s saying what I’m thinking, and every sentence is smart.

“Surely, education has no meaning unless it helps you to understand the vast expanse of life with all its subtleties, with its extraordinary beauty, its sorrows and joys. You may earn degrees, you may have a series of letters after your name and land a very good job; but then what? What is the point of it all if in the process your mind becomes dull, weary, stupid? So, while you are young, must you not seek to find what life is all about? And is it not the true function of education to cultivate in you the intelligence which will try to find the answer to all these problems? Do you know what intelligence is? It is the capacity, surely, to think freely, without fear, without a formula, so that you begin to discover for yourself what is real, what is true, but if you are frightened you will never be intelligent. Any form of ambition, spiritual or mundane, breeds anxiety, fear; therefore ambition does not help to bring about a mind that is clear, simple, direct and hence intelligent.”

So, thanks Anna. Best night of chicken fingers in my life.